Well here’s an awkward episode. It’s definitely funny and still very enjoyable, but jeez it has some awkward subject matter.
Things start off with Homer and the barflies sitting around in Moe’s smoking cigars in celebration. Apparently Homer made some money from the stock market, and is showing off for his friends. Although things start to seem suspect when we learn that Homer made his money by investing in pumpkins, and he didn’t sell them before Halloween. Now, I’m not very good with economics, but I feel like that’s a terrible decision. And that’s confirmed when he sees his stock broker, who calls him an idiot, and tells us that Homer spent all of his life-savings on this little scam, so Homer is now completely broke. And despite all of Homer’s other failings, Homer is a good provider, and feels pretty scared to tell Marge that he kind of ruined them. So he heads home, depressed, and that’s not helped by the fact that Patty and Selma are in the house, celebrating their upcoming promotion. Homer storms into the house, complaining about his sisters-in-law being there, and says the wonderful line of “time to take out the trash! But first I’m going to have to ask you to leave.” He kicks them out of the house, which pisses them off and makes Marge feel kind of awkward. Now, I feel like this issue has come up before, but I feel like this episode shows the conflict Marge feels having her husband and her sisters hate each other better than any other, and it seems devastating. But the tension of that concept is a little alleviated when Marge tells them Homer is a complicated man, to which he sticks his head out a window and smashes a plate over his head, yelling “wrong!”
But after the weird plate-incident, Homer starts to worry even more about his impending financial doom, especially after he hears Marge tell her sisters that he’s a good provider. So desperate to make money, he starts thinking up things to invent, which immediately causes him to fall asleep. And his subconscious is jerking him around because he has a dream about making some wonderful invention that no one will show him. And when Marge wakes him up, he briefly considers telling her about the financial woes, but decides to protect her, and thinks of his family as his Queen, his Princess, and Ratboy.
And while Homer is worrying about money, we have some crazy B-plot that revolves around Bart. It starts with him trying to convince Milhouse to skip school with him, since it’s a beautiful day where “birds are singing and bees are trying to have sex with them, as is my understanding.” But Milhouse doesn’t want to be late and heads off. And it’s a good thing Milhouse bailed, because we see that this was an important day in school, when the kids pick what kind of gym class they take…which is weird? My schools never did anything like this, and it seems super odd to me. But whatever. Bart finally shows up, and finds that all the good classes are filled, and he’s left with ballet being the only option.
But back in the depressing main-plot, Homer is at the bank, learning that they’re going to foreclose on the house soon. And since he can’t scam them, he’s forced to do the unthinkable, and ask Patty and Selma for a loan. They agree to give Homer money, and a red flag isn’t raised in his mind when they start laughing ominously. But it doesn’t take long for him to find out that they plan on taking advantage of him when they show up the next night to hang out in the house and torment him. They hold the loan over his head, and explain that they own him “like Siegfried owns Roy,” and Homer essentially becomes their slave.
We peak back in on Bart’s plot momentarily when we see that he’s the only boy in ballet, which makes him pretty self-conscious. The Russian teacher, voiced by Susan Sarandon, tries to tell him that ballet is for strong men, and that all his favorite heroes like Batman and Magellan wear tights. But Bart continues to hate ballet, until he accidently realizes he’s amazing at it, and instantly falls in love with it. But while all of this is going on, the Homer plot is escalating like crazy, when Patty and Selma show up again. They threaten Homer and make him bark like a dog. And while Homer is degrading himself, Marge comes in, causing Homer to freak out. He tries to hide what’s going on, and after a tussle with Patty and Selma, the IOU he signed lands on a lamp, which projects it onto the roof. Selma then crosses the line by telling Marge that they gave Homer money because he blew all of their money on pumpkins, causing Homer to freak out and throw them out of the house.
Homer becomes incredibly depressed, even though Marge doesn’t seem that mad, and only wants him to forgive himself. But he stays morose, and even starts looking for a second job, which he ends up finding with a limo company. But before we get to the limo stuff, I’m just going to end Bart’s plot. Turns out there’s a big recital coming up, and Bart is scared “the girls will laugh at me. I fear the boys will beat the snot out of me.” So he ends up wearing a mask during the recital, and is shocked to see that everyone loves him, and doesn’t care that he’s a guy. So, emboldened by their love, he comes out and reveals himself to be the masked dancer, which inspires the bullies to chase him and beat him up. Bart tries to escape by using his ballet powers to jump over a ditch, which fails and causes him to smash into it. The bullies stop caring at that point, and we get a hilarious scene where Lisa shows up to tell Bart’s body that she’s proud of him, and he says the amazing line of “Why’d she just leave me here when I clearly need medical attention.”
But back in the main plot, Homer has become a limo driver, and his first fare is Mel Brooks, who he harasses into playing a skit with him. But while driving Mel to the airport, he’s pulled over by Chief Wiggum, and it’s revealed that Homer doesn’t have a chauffer’s license, and can’t drive limos. And the only way to get one is to go to Patty and Selma at the DMV. So Homer goes to take the driving test with them, and they are immediately horrible to him. They fail Homer, and start celebrating while smoking. There’s then an incredibly sad moment where Marge explains how horrible it is to have him fight with Patty and Selma all the time, and how shitty it is to make her be in the middle. And Homer gets a chance to redeem himself quickly, when the twins’ supervisor shows up and is pissed that they’re smoking in a government building, which could make them lose their promotion. But Homer swings in to save the day, and claims that the cigarettes are his, saving Patty and Selma. They’re shocked and actually grateful, and Homer uses that chance to get them to forget the debt, and reset the status quo.
This episode is really good. The Bart B-plot is super funny and it’s great to see him dancing around and loving ballet, especially with its end having him explain that he doesn’t care that people think he’s a sissy, that he’s just proud he did something he wanted to do. But the real shining glory of the episode is the main plot. Holy crap. How awkward would that be? I’ve never had to borrow, or loan money to a family member, and it has to be the worst. Especially when that family member hates you. I’ve mentioned before that unless the episode is about Patty or Selma, they’re usually pretty mean characters, and don’t deserve a lot of sympathy. But this episode really showed the internal struggle Marge has to deal with when they fight with Homer, because both parties come off as in the wrong whenever they fight. Marge is the true victim in all of this, and it was really great to see Homer finally realize this and take the high-road to save the twins.
Take Away: Be careful when lending money to relatives.
“Homer vs. Patty and Selma” was written by Brent Forrester and directed by Mark Kirkland, 1995.